Ash Die-Back Disease is being treated as a quarantine pest under national emergency measures.
The disease (Chalara fraxinea) was brought into the country on imported Ash plants from continental Europe. It has been identified in the open countryside throughout the UK and the disease could appear anywhere, especially where young Ash trees imported from Europe have been planted. The fungus responsible is called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus.
There is currently a national Plant Health Order in place banning the movement, sale and planting of Ash trees, but that may be removed in the future as the Order cannot be sustained in terms of European legislation now that the UK is no longer a disease free state. Local authorities will however not be accepting planting schemes that include Ash.
For information about how a diseased tree affects planning conditions such as Tree Preservation Orders, please visit the Trees and Development page (see 'Related Pages').
Suspected ash trees
Current advice from the Forestry Commission is that there is nothing that you can do about the disease if you discover it on a tree. If the tree does later die, then you will need to fell it if the tree becomes unsound due to the roots, stem and branches being colonised by wood decay fungus. However, you should not do so just because it has the disease, as some trees may prove to be resistant.
You must also not transport the felled material about as the movement of leaves is believed to be a major vector for the spread of the disease. An attempt to correctly identify the disease is the first step and you might wish to consult a fully accredited (Arboricultural Association (AA) and Accreditation Services International (ASI) contractor or specialist. Otherwise, advice can be sought from:
- Forest Research Tree Health Diagnostic and Advisory Service: 01420 23000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have identified an ash tree in your garden as being infected by the disease, please do not put the leaves or cuttings in your garden waste bin. The leaves and trimmings should be handled as explained below.
Contractors and felled Ash materials (and Larch)
Identification of the disease is important as is good sanitation. So, felling and pruning wood, leaves etc. should not be transported or introduced into wood chip and mulch, instead it should be burned on site if possible and contractors' tools should be sterile cleaned afterwards and before using on other Ash trees.
Detailed updates on confirmed cases can be found by visiting the Forestry Commission website (see 'Internet Links').
Current guidance from Kent, which is highly affected, can be found by visiting the Kent County Council website (see 'Internet Links').